Sunday, 18 July 2010

Day 9 - Sunday

Right, day 9 the final day of digging hell. The aim today was to finish excavating the nemesis. Save for 5 cm I made it, halle-fucking-lujah !

The right side is all but complete and the skip is full to overflowing, I still can't believe how much has come out of such a small area.

So close of play today is:


And skip number two is a little full...

So what's next ?, well unfortunately back to work for a bit until I can arrange another weeks annual leave. Then the fun really starts, installation of the sleepers building the frame and laying the deck boards. I have a sneaking feeling that I may need to level off the ground area a little so no doubt another skip will be needed.

And the last laugh... is on Google, whose street view and Google earth images of my house are ridiculously out of date ! up yours you mocha drinking, wireless data stealing, pointless OS creating, Apple wanna be  pricks..

Just to note that writing this post on Blogger (Owned by Google) using Chrome, Google is identified as an incorrect spelling with Goggle and Googly as the first two suggestions - muppets, ffs.

Saturday, 17 July 2010

Day 8 - Saturday (Again)

Bloody hell, eight days already.. I hardly noticed ;) This whole garden thing is starting to feel a bit too much like a job...

Anyway massive progress with the work today, the left side has been smoothed making the cut in vertical (just about, took hours), also I rolled out the sleepers to both check the depth is correct and to try to get an idea of what the end result might be, unfortunately I hadn't got it quite right and needed to take another half a foot out at the back, an hour later and I was in business.

I'm thinking I may need to add further sleepers down the sides as one length doesn't quite look right and adding another would give the illusion of a longer garden.

With the left side finished for now and the back at the right depth and vertical I needed to move the decking boards over to allow me to attack the right side, as I was moving them anyway I took the opportunity to lay out a few boards to check depth and get a sneak peek.


Obviously the height and spacing isn't quite correct, but you get the idea. With all the decking moved over to the left I'm now set up to lay into the right side of the nemesis tomorrow, just two days until I have to return to work so I'd better make it count.

 A few pics of how things stand at close of play on day eight.


Just for a change a view from the back of the garden.


Sitting at the back to take these pictures I realised how deep the bed will be on the right side, with the depth we will be able to plant multiple layers making the back of the garden a real focal point and giving a great view from the lounge or conservatory. Luckily I'm not be responsible for the planting as an expert it on hand...

Finally, it feels like the longest fraking eight days of my life ever however a quick look at how things were back then makes me feel a little better.

Friday, 16 July 2010

Day 7 - Friday

Dear God everything hurts so bad ! The endless pick, shovel and chugg work is really relentless on the muscles. The first round is the worst each day as all the pain comes flooding back as soon as I pick up the pick.

Fantastic progress today though, I faced off against the nemesis this morning and I have finally reached the back dig line, hurrah !

I tested the depth by laying out a few decking boards, it is difficult to see but I can almost imagine the finished result.

With the back line reached I cracked into digging out the left side. When finished the back and each side will be lined by sleepers with the deck sitting snug between and some heavy planting in the back bed to obscure the wall. The left side is now all but finished with just smoothing to get it vertical remaining.


Until very recently our neighbour had a huge hedge on the boundary of her garden right behind our fence, the hedge has now been removed and some god awful pebble gravel hell makeover inflicted on her garden by a bunch of cowboys who must have been on Watchdog or Rouge Traders at least once.. anyway it's all very good having your hedge chopped down to the stumps but that doesn't take care of the bastard roots which have spent years infiltrating your neighbours garden. Excavating the left side I seem to come across a root every other swing of the pick.

So far my collection looks like this, and that's just this afternoon:

The rule of aeration is one that will catch  you off guard if you every go Dizzie Rascal (bonkers) insane and decide it's a good idea to dig out your back garden, essentially the rule states that for each quantity of tightly compacted earth you remove the process of excavation aerates it and results in it taking up 1.5 x the space of the original compacted size, I can best demonstrate this with a picture of skip number two..

So it's looking like this 'little project' will take 2 weeks of annual leave, 3 skips and far too much money for my liking to complete, oh well.

Roll on day 8 - awesome.

Thursday, 15 July 2010

Day 6 - Thursday PM

Spoke too soon, big JC was mocking me. I got out back to face the nemesis, got 3 chuggs full and the heavens opened. Fuck it, I just carried on, even Jesus can't best me.

The hordes of rain have turned the whole excavation into a soggy bog which has just made everything really messy, shoveling  is particularly hard now that the dig out sticks together, on the plus side the rain has actually made it easier working with the pick.

Anyway despite the odds ranged against me I made fair progress, on the left side I've almost reached the magic distance. I should mark the back dig line in paint, that way the photos will easily show progress.

So final pic for the day:

PS - Annual leave for DIY project beard is really rocking now !

Day 6 - Thursday AM

The morning started off well, my son has gone swimming with Granny leaving me free to tackle the wall of brown once more.. I think for now I will refer to the wall as my nemesis, and the project as 'The Work'.

So with the floor mats laid out I headed out back to face the nemesis and continue The Work. I made good progress shifting about 16 chuggs of dig out until JC sent the rain and play was called off.

I'm just waiting for the rain to abate and then I'll be back at it..

On a side note I'm thinking that I was slightly 'over ambitious/deluded/possessed by madness' to think I could get this done in one week so with that in mind I have decided to realign my end goal for the week. I will now aim to have the dig out complete before the end of my annual leave. This will leave the best and most enjoyable task of installing the sleepers, frame and laying the decking for either weekends or another week of annual leave. It is always this final phase of a project when I feel the most satisfaction, when all the back breaking ground work allows you to bring everything together very quickly.

I love my job, or at least my chosen profession of IT however nothing can really beat creating something with your hands where nothing existed before and then being able to see and touch what you created.

Looks like the big JC has granted a reprieve and called off the rain... back to it, it's going to be wet, muddy and difficult..but I love it really!

Wednesday, 14 July 2010

Day 5 - Wednesday PM

After the rain earlier in the day the afternoon was pretty good weather wise, the sun even poked out it's head towards the end.

Not much more to add other than digging the brown wall of hell is, well hellish ! It really is going to be a hard slog, the earth is fairly normal for the first 2 feet or so then turns into clay after that. I have pushed back the dig line a fair bit though. I'm hoping that three more days of digging will have it licked. I'm trying to keep Sunday free for rest as I'm back to my shit hole of a job on Monday.

The new skip is starting to fill nicely, and despite being exactly the same size as the last one (apparently) it seems a little bigger..

Day 5 - Wednesday AM

Rain has once again delayed play for now, thanks JC !, so time for a quick update...

The new skip finally arrived at about 11:30am, I have to say there is quite some skill in in swinging around a 17 tonne skip lorry in a small cul-de-sac. Everything went well save for a hairy moment when the driver was picking up my full skip, which by this time was sat in the top of the new one which he'd just put down on the drive and the chains grappled the new skip too, but on one side only and the whole mess swung out at 45 degrees across my neighbours drive ! good thing I asked her to move her car..

With the new skip in place I could commence excavation. Now the really hard slog begins, the wall and steps are gone, the top layer of crap removed and all that is left is to battle through the looming wall of brown hell.

I was feeling really weak with muscles aching like hell this morning, no doubt due to working in the damp drizzle yesterday so the first pick, digging out and round of chuggs was a real ball ache. The end goal is to excavate back 3.6 metres from the conservatory which will be the length of the deck, 3.6 metres seem a long way off..

A little note on ambition. It is easy to have ambition but another thing entirely to fulfil and deliver on it. As a person I am very stubborn when I decide to do something, in as much as I will not compromise on what I initially decided to achieve, no matter how hard the road to completing that goal is. This is both a good and bad personality trait, at the moment I'm verging towards bad.

But as a good friend pointed out to me the other day the end result will make it all worth while, spot on !

Rain has abated so back to the coal face.

Progress so far:

Tuesday, 13 July 2010

Day 4 - Tuesday

Today didn't start off too well. Jesus has turned his eyes back on me and sent the rain, after weeks and weeks of  nothing but heat, most of which I've spent sweating it out on trains and the London tube now the big JC sees fit to make it rain, figures..

The the rain has turned the garden into a fair Glastonbury approximation which just makes everything more difficult, I need two pairs of shoes, one for garden and one for moving stuff through the house to the skip, also I called for a new skip today as the current one is really, really full, unfortunately they cannot drop the new one until Wednesday...ho hum.

So what did I achieve today, well the sleepers and decking boards arrived from Wickes. Annoyingly they will only unload to the kerbside which left only me to lug 8 sleepers and 26 decking boards through the house. I also ordered two 2.7 metre fence posts, one is ok the other more banana than post !

I stashed the sleepers under the table in the conservatory and the decking in the garden, I'll no doubt have to move it at least half a dozen times as I work on the dig out.


I've finished removing the last of the stone postcrete hell layer from the higher level which is now all lovely naked bare earth, hurrah and shifted about 16 chuggs of crap to the skip. Looking at the size of the skip and how full it is I'm amazed there is anything left in the garden yet there's still this unrelenting wall of earth.

Most of the work today was under heavy drizzle which made for a fun time and also slowed me down quite a bit. To end the day I took the pick to the never end wall of brown and pushed back the dig line a little further, although I'll need to wait for the new skip before I can remove it.

So finally I'd like to introduce you to Hat ! I bought this cap from some surf/skate shop about 4-5 years ago, I don't wear hats or cap except when I'm undertaking DIY. Hat has been a loyal and trusted partner in crime through all our DIY projects over the years but I fear he is now reaching the end of his life, he smells bad, is very loose on the head and pretty stained.

So it is with a heavy heart that I have decided the garden resurection project will be Hats last. Once finished I'll build a funneral pire and burn him Vader style ! or maybe just chuck it in the bin.

Anyhow, all hail the HAT...

P.S. Annual leave for DIY project beard is coming on really well !

Monday, 12 July 2010

Day 3 - Monday PM

Right, so the moonscape is taking shape. I have cleared 90 % of the postcreate stone hell mix, which towards the back right of the garden was about 4 - 5 inches deep !. I've also vented a little frustration with the pick and moved the dig out line a bit further back.

Bad news is, I need another fraking skip ! I got my skip from a local company I knew I could trust as we'd used them at work. The tag line on the skip reads '**** Skips, we don't talk rubbish, we move it ! it occurs to me that if they had room on the skip the full version would read:

'**** Skips, we don't talk rubbish, we move it ! and then laugh all the way to the bank with your money !

Oh well, it's only money...

At this point it's worth mentioning by new best friends 'Chuggs', hardy plastic things which make it almost easy to hump tonnes of crap to the skip ! all hail the 'Chugg'...

Final picture for the day (I think, maybe)..

Time for beer and a cigar..

Day 3 - Monday AM

Today muscles ache more than ever however needs must and I need to press on. After shovelling out the earth I'd picked yesterday the mornings/afternoons main task is breaking up the 3" layer of stones & postcrete hell that some complete idiot used as a bed for the patio (a laughable description) on the raised section of the garden.

The pick is not so good for this close work so I have switched to block hammer and stone chisel with fairly good results... 

I'm also onto t-shirt number 2, the sun may not be shining but the humidity is still a bitch..

Sunday, 11 July 2010

Day 2 - Sunday

Not that much done on day 2 as we went out to visit family for the day. I did however manage half an hour with the pick making some progress on the mamouth wall of earth..

Roll on day 3, I think...

Day 1 - Saturday

This is the starting point, I've removed the paving slabs from the higher level earlier in the week and relatives kindly chopped down the plants. Also the right wall is part demolished.

The most difficult task of the day was taking out the steps and wall which took about 6 hours or so.

More steps, more wall..

Finally the wall and steps are no more, to my amazment the foundations of the wall went four layers of bricks below ground level..

By the end of the day the skip is looking a little full, hopefully there will be enough room for the rest...

I'm hoping not everyday will be this hard.

Saturday, 10 July 2010

And so it begins..

Basically my garden is a mess, an awkward shape and highly unsuitable for my young son.

So I decided to take a week annual leave from work and sort it out. The basic plan is to level it, leaving a bed for planting at the rear, add decking level with the conservatory and box in the back and sides with sleepers giving us a great space and my son somewhere safe to play.

Lets see how far I get in a week...